Gables

Hello!

Today, I thought I’d treat you to some knitted gables as well as some real ones. From three skeins of fingering-weight merino non-superwash yarn I’ve knit another Thús 2. Casting on 119 stitches, I made it wider than in the pattern. Then I knit, knit, knit, and knit, row after row of houses, making it longer than the original too, ending up with a 51cm/20” by 2.14m/84¼” wrap. Here you can see how big it is:

I like wearing it like this, with the ends criss-crossed:

Or wrapped around my neck once and knotted:

The gables in my wrap are very simple, rather like the gable of our own home only with an extra pair of windows.

Far simpler than the many beautiful and interesting gables we saw during a visit to the Frisian city of Bolsward in August. There were stepped gables, like this one with its decorative anchor plates and a man’s and a woman’s head above the first-floor windows:

The stepped gable from 1741 below, with a pair of scissors in the centre, must have belonged to a tailor once.

There were simple bell gables:

And ornate ones, with swags and frills everywhere:

As well as interesting and fancy gables that seem more modern to me (but I am not knowledgeable enough to tell you from what period or style this one is) :

It was fun walking along the canals wearing how-many-different-gables-can-I-find glasses.

Well, back to my own simple, hand knit gables. If you’d like to copy them, my Ravelry notes can be found here.

There are other knits on my needles now – a simple navy blue cardigan for everyday wear, a jacket for our grandson, swatches for a new design of my own and a pair of mittens for a gift. More about those when I’m a little further along. I hope you have enough to occupy your hands, too. Because, what can be nicer than spending the darkening evenings knitting?

Lilla Ull Huset

Hello!

Sit down and enjoy the moment, the wooden sign at the top says in German. It was placed behind a stone bench along a hiking trail in Das Bergische Land, an area about 45 km east of Köln/Cologne. We’ve just spent a week there, and I have so much to show and tell, especially for the knitters among you. I hope you have some time to sit down and enjoy this moment at your computer, or in a lazy chair with your tablet or mobile.

The people we rented our apartment from had the most amazing garden. It was private…

… but we were allowed to spend as much time in it as we liked. This is a view of the garden from the veranda at the top:

There was a woodland walk, a vegetable and herb garden, fruit trees, roses, herbaceous borders and several photogenic summerhouses and sheds.

So romantic! We didn’t spend the entire week in that beautiful garden, though. Part of our week was spent visiting friends and relatives, chatting and sampling some utterly delicious cakes.

And to burn all those calories off, we also spent several days hiking. Compared to our flat Dutch country, it’s quite a mountainous area, although it doesn’t show much in this picture.

One of our walks was a themed one around Fachwerkhäuser. How I love those beautiful timber-framed buildings. I could fill an entire post with the pictures I’ve taken of them alone and have had a hard time choosing just one.

The first couple of days were warm and sunny, but then the weather changed (sneaking in one more Fachwerkhaus here).

And on a very, very wet day, we decided to go shopping in the town of Gummersbach.

I’d googled a bit beforehand and discovered a yarn shop there called Lilla Ull Huset, specializing in Scandinavian knitting yarns.

It is a veritable Valhalla for knitters, with yarns from Danish Isager, Holst and Geilsk, Norwegian Sandnes, Swedish Ullcentrum Öland, Islandic Istex Lopi and more. I’m adding as many links as I can, so that anyone who wants to can spend even more time drooling over lovely yarns and patterns.

This is a close-up of the Isager section:

And this simple yet stylish striped scarf was knit from a combination of their yarns.

There were quite a few knitted sweaters, scarves and shawls to inspire visitors. This is a soft and cosy Sandnes one – isn’t it fun how they styled it with those over-the-top pearl necklaces?

Below right is Christel Seyfarth’s Mongolia Shawl. And left Isager’s sweater Clouds of Sils Maria.

The sweater is a wonderful Scandinavian amalgam, designed by Danish Marianne Isager, with an Icelandic yoke, and knit for the most part in Geilsk Tweed. I’d love to knit it, especially in this tweedy yarn.

There was also a great selection of books. The entire series of those beautiful Norwegian Kofteboken, many Isager books and also books by designers I’d never heard of, like Susie Haumann, Ditte Larsen and Annette Danielsen.

So, did we drive home with a boot filled with enough yarn to cover all my loved ones in knitting from head to toe? It was tempting, but I’ve been prudent and ‘only’ came home with 3 skeins of yarn, matching buttons and two books. The books are by Annette Danielsen:

Wintertage (left) is a thinnish booklet in German, containing several easy-to-make recipes as well as 7 sweater patterns. And Fynsk Forår (right) is in Danish and contains patterns for many beautiful pullovers and cardigans, as well as fabulous photographs of Danish landscapes, buildings and art.

The designs all look very wearable and have interesting design details, like this horizontal cable along the top of vertical ones on the back of a cardigan.

And last but not least, I found a pattern, yarn and the cutest buttons for a jacket for our grandson.

More about that when I get to it.

Perhaps I should create a map with all the yarn shops I’ve blogged about – that might be useful. Until I find out how and can find the time for that, Lilla Ull Huset and all of the other ones I’ve visited can be found by clicking on ‘shopping’ in the list of tags in the right-hand column on your computer screen (below the ‘Search’ window) or via this link. The only ‘problem’ is that you’ll also need to scroll past a quilt shop, book shop and farmers’ market here and there.

Hope to see you again next week! (I’ll try to behave and keep things shorter then.) xxx

Lightness

Hello!

In need of a little more lightness in my life, I’m abandoning all other knitting projects for the time being and starting a Featherweight Cardigan. I’ll come back to the nearly-or-half-finished warm and woolly things when the weather gets cooler in September.

I could have ordered the yarn online, but it’s always so hard to judge the colours on a computer screen. Besides, visiting a real brick-and-mortar (or in this case wood-and-glass) yarn shop is much more fun. Pink was what I wanted, but which pink?

Seeing them IRL I knew it straightaway – the palest shade top right.

I try not to buy yarn on a whim anymore, planning carefully what I want to make, what yarn will be most suitable, and how much I’ll need. But in spite of my best intentions, this naughty skein of sock yarn hopped into my shopping bag.

So irresistibly cheerful! I’m thinking of a pair of socks a little (or a lot) more intricate than my usual simple ones. Cables, perhaps, or a twisted stitch pattern, or… I don’t know. Suggestions welcome!

On the way back I stopped off at the village with the onion-shaped church steeple (I wrote about the legend behind it here.)

It’s always nice to take a stroll along the lanes. There are so many lovely spots…

… and beautiful houses.

In the past, the village was surrounded by essen – fertile, raised arable fields with a domed shape resulting from spreading many layers of manure and grass sods on them throughout the centuries. Housing estates have been built upon the essen, but in a place where a school was demolished there is now a small cornfield again.

This small, flower-filled cornfield won’t feed the world, but it does feed many birds, bees and butterflies.

Because by this time I couldn’t stop yawning, I did something I rarely do and treated myself to a cup of cappuccino before going home.

Ahhh, that did me a power of good – not just the cappuccino, but the entire little outing. Thank you for coming along. I really appreciate your company!

Textile Cycle Tours 2

Hello, and welcome to the second day at the Weerribben Textile Festival!

Looking through the many, many photographs I’ve taken, making a selection was again a struggle. There were so many beautiful and interesting things to see. In the end, I’ve chosen to focus on the items that have made the most surprising use of materials.

Before we head off, here’s a picture to give you an idea of the landscape we’re cycling through.

We’re on the edges of the Weerribben National Park. It’s my ordinary, everyday landscape of farmland surrounded by hedgerows and small plots of woodland.

The first location we’re visiting is a gallery housed here:

Inside are multiple items by Atelier Vuurwater, a collaboration between a ceramist and a textile artist. You’ve already seen the bowls they call barstjes (cracks) at the top – cracked black raku-fired ceramic with a blue felt lining. And here are two of their urns in the same unusual combination of materials.

There are also several works solely by the textile-artist-half of this duo, Miriam Verbeek. These use only one material (felt), but in a very interesting way. They resemble old black-and-white photographs, but because of the way the felt has been manipulated they give the impression of fading, just like memories fade.

One of the nice things about cycling from location to location is that it prevents what is sometimes called ‘museum fatigue’. At our next stop, there’s this intriguing combination of acorn caps, organza, lycra, glue, wood, cardboard in a work called ‘Golden Days’ by Godelieve Spee.

It is accompanied by a poetic text about autumn and the changing of the seasons.

The next exhibit, by Janny Mensen (no website), uses different materials and techniques again: photographs transferred onto wood overlaid with embroidery. Studying it closely it looks to me like a naked female form in some sort of yoga pose, but I may be wrong. I like how the embroidery stitches resemble pine needles.

Well, time for some lunch. There are no cafés or restaurants along this part of the route, and all benches are already taken by other festival cyclists. So it’s sandwiches on the grass around the next location, I’m afraid. The locations vary from community buildings to private homes, campsites and churches. This is the church at Paasloo.

In one of the pews, there is a row of small cushions by Attje Oosterhuis:

They were made using scraps of antique silk and wool fabrics, lace, linen yarns, card and (curiouser and curiouser) bird’s nests and a bird skeleton (click on images below to enlarge):

The text embroidered in red says: ‘Let us pray for the animals… for the chickens… that they get more space and no flu… for the birds… that they take a detour… for the people… that they chase less growth…’

The next work, by Ilja Walraven, was actually on the route of the first day, but I felt it had to be included here because of the very unusual use of materials and objects: Chairs…

… with wine glasses and beakers filled with bits of sheep’s wool on the seats, arranged according to hue, from dark to light.

Is it art? It looks like it and it was made by a professional artist, so yes, I suppose so. Is it textile art? Hmmmm… And what does it MEAN? Does it matter what box it fits into? Does it matter what it means?

I also wonder why haven’t I seen a single stitch of knitting during these two days. Coincidence? Doesn’t it belong in the category textiles? Doesn’t it lend itself to art? And why do I feel drawn to making useful stuff instead of art?

Some of the things at the Weerribben Textile Festival have raised question marks. Some have made me smile or feel inspired. Others have evoked feelings of nostalgia. Some have even upset me, and I think that’s all good. Because isn’t that what art is all about – uplifting and challenging us?

Well, after this philosophizing let’s end on a light-hearted note, with whimsical collection by Erna Platel, using tins, maps, bits of ribbon and lace, buttons and other haberdashery:

The Weerribben Textile Festival will be held again in 2024. Check out the website for more information.

Textile Cycle Tours 1

Hello!

Every other year a textile festival is held on our doorstep and I’d never been. High time to rectify that, so this year I gave myself two whole days to cycle the two tours plotted by the organisation. Textile art was displayed in 18 indoor and outdoor locations in and around the Weerribben nature reserve.

Here is my impression of the first day, the route through the peat bog part of the area. From the literally hundreds of pictures I’ve taken, I’ve chosen exhibits that have a strong link with these watery surroundings, although they are by artists from all over the country.

Take these ferns by Rineke van Zeeburg – don’t they look as if they grow here naturally?

Monique Aubertijn made shapes from hessian using crochet and embroidery. Displayed in this location, the ones below look like fish traps from a fantasy film scene.

The same artist who made the big fern leaves from rough hessian, also makes exquisite art quilts. To the left ‘Poisonous Frog’ and to the right ‘Dragonfly’.

She told me that she dyes all fabrics herself. The longer I looked, the more I saw. Dragonflies inside the dragonflies, and machine embroidery that gives the impression of veins on the dragonfly wings and of water droplets around them.

These quilts look very much at home here, where many different kinds of dragonflies flit among the water lilies.

Along the water and opposite a campsite, there’s a strange pillar in shades of rust and blue.

The sign next to it says ‘Roadside Book’. Margriet van Vliet (no website) has created a fascinating object from many of those face masks carelessly dropped along the roadsides in recent years.

To get from A to B I’ve decide to deviate from the official route and follow the ‘100-bridges-cycle-track’ (as I’m secretly calling it) instead. There are not exactly 100 bridges to cross, but there are many.

Halfway along it is a perfect lunch spot. In the reed bed right behind the bench: the song of a reed warbler. In the distance: cuckoo, cuckoo.

To reach the next location, we need to wait for a bridge in the village of Kalenberg. € 2,20 per boat, the sign along the canal says. No debit cards here. The bridge keeper collects the fee in a wooden shoe…

… attached to a fishing rod.

At the next location, two works by the same artist, Helma van Kleinwee, evoked opposite emotions in me. The first one made me laugh out loud.

The second one is so subtle, that I hope you can see it on your screen. It’s a semi-transparent piece of fabric showing two human figures, moving in the wind between two pollarded willows. For me, it is a poignant image of our fragility. It made me think of the song ‘Dust in the Wind’ by Kansas. (The funny thing is that Dutch uses the same word for both dust and fabric: stof.)

Finally, here is a sketch of a tjasker by Monique ter Beeke (no website). Only, instead of charcoal she has chosen machine embroidery as her medium. The edges are sandwiched between layers of irregularly shaped glass. (Click on images to enlarge.)

It’s the same tjasker we’re passing along our route. (A tjasker is a small wooden windmill. In the past it was used for draining the land to make peat extraction easier. Now it is sometimes used for pumping water into the land to prevent it from drying out.)

Usually, I go on outings like these together with a friend. This time I went on my own. On the one hand, that gave me complete freedom, on the other I missed the company and talking about the artworks.

Sharing this day here is a way for me to process everything. I hope it’s also been fun and interesting for you reading this. I’m planning to write about day 2 next time and hope you’ll join me again then.

Places to Sit and Knit 4

Hello!

The last instalment in my series ‘Places to Sit and Knit’ was over 6 months ago, so high time for another one. It’s about an hour’s cycling from our home to get to the place I have in mind, along narrow roads and bicycle tracks. We’re cycling through Weerribben-Wieden National Park, the largest lowland bog in Northwest Europe.

It’s lovely, cycling here, but it’s also a warm day and I’m glad we’ve reached our destination. So, where exactly are we and why here? Well, look:

Today’s place to sit and knit is a very special bench in the village of Wanneperveen. The people living here have decorated it with mosaic, showing local highlights. The back shows a ewe with a lamb, a farmhouse, a bell tower and a monument with a stepped gable.

And this is what the front looks like:

We’re in an ordinary street, and the view from the bench isn’t very special either:

Today it’s all about the bench itself, or rather the Social Sofa, because that is what it is. The aim of the Social Sofa project is promoting social cohesion by working on a creative project together, as neighbours, and ending up with a beautiful place to meet and have a chat.

Here are some of the details that these people have so lovingly created together. Several black-and-white Friesian-Holsteins:

A mallard:

And a water lily flower, with leaves in many shades of blue and green, and the date:

I think it’s a lovely place to sit and knit and have a chat.

So, what is on your needles? Do you have anything on your needles at all? If not, why not? Do you feel uninspired or is it too hot for you to knit at this time of the year? What do you do if you’re not knitting? Crochet? Other crafts? Draw or write? Or do you give yourself a break from crafting and creativity? I’m really interested, so do leave a comment if you feel like it. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, just reading my writings quietly is fine, too.

And what have I got on  my needles? Nothing very interesting, really. To be honest, big life events, even good ones, always unbalance me. No matter how wonderful and positive the birth of our grandson was, it had that effect on me, too. For a while I felt totally uninspired. But my hands need something to do, so first of all I finished every WIP (Work In Progress) in the house. When there was absolutely nothing on my needles anymore, I started with some simple and familiar things. First of all the most basic of socks.

Yarns (from left to right): Zitron ‘Trekking XXL’ shade 104, Lana Grossa ‘Landlust Die Sockenwolle’ shades 503, 406 and 501, and Regia ‘City Streets Color 4-ply’ shade 02898.

The Landlust ones have strange memories attached to them. I bought the yarn during a lockdown last year, when non-essential shops were only open by appointment and no more than 2 customers were allowed in simultaneously. It seems like a long time ago. Will it remain a thing of the past?

The next simple thing I cast on for was a stocking stitch Library Vest (with pockets – I love pockets) by a familiar designer. I had some dark blue tweed yarn left over from a cardigan, and was able to get three more skeins (in the same dye lot, yay!).

It’s a really nice project, but I’m writing this on a hot day, with a thunderstorm threatening. And just looking at this picture makes me feel like: what was I thinking, starting this woolly, tweedy thing at the beginning of summer?

And here is the third simple and familiar thing I started – another Thús 2.

I’ve knit this tiny house lace pattern so often now, that I can knit it in my dreams. I’m very happy with this as a summer project. It’s a summery colour, not too big and warm on my lap, and I can easily take it along.

That’s all of my knitting at the moment. I think it’s time for something a little more interesting now, but what? A more complicated knitting project? A detour into another craft? I don’t know yet, but ideas are starting to bubble again.

What do you think, shall we cycle on?

As of next week I’ll be looking after our sweet little grandson one day a week, when our daughter is going back to work. I’ve already spent two days at his home as a trainee and feel fairly confident that I can do it.

I don’t know what this means for my blog, though. I may be able to keep on publishing a blogpost once a week as before, or less frequently, or less regularly, or shorter posts. One thing I do know is that I will keep blogging – I enjoy it too much not to.

For the next couple of posts I have planned some textiles-filled cycling tours. I hope I can find the time and also that you’ll join me again. Bye for now! xxx

Joure Wool Festival 2022

Hello!

Together with a friend, I visited the annual Wool Festival in Joure last weekend. We had a great time and (not entirely unexpectedly) saw LOTS of wool. There were bundles of curly locks, bags filled with raw fleeces, and cleaned and carded batts of wool from specific Dutch sheep breeds, like Texel, Dutch milk sheep, Kempen heath sheep and Dutch piebald sheep.

There was also wool from many other breeds of sheep, single or in blends, undyed or dyed.

I remember a time, not so very long ago, when I could only get raw Texel fleeces, and later some merino from Australia. It is amazing how much the wool landscape has changed over the past decade or so, and how much more local wool is available and appreciated now.

I don’t know why, but there was no sheep shearing this year. There were other fleeces walking around on four legs, though.

Don’t they have the sweetest faces?

There was also wool in the form of yarn, of course – machine-spun and hand-dyed, hand-spun and dyed and hand-spun in natural colours.

And then there were things made from wool. Adorable hedgehog mittens, Scandinavian and Latvian inspired mittens, and felted and woven items (click on images to enlarge).

Among all the animal fibres, there was also one plant fibre present: flax. “The Frisian Flax Females are spinnin’ flax into linen” the notice board, decorated with a bundle of flax, said.

Very interesting! Spinning flax into linen is very different from spinning wool into yarn. The flax fibres are kept from tangling by placing them on a distaff. On the rack to the right of the spinner you can see a few of the towels woven from the hand-spun linen.

The spinner keeps her hands close to the flax on the distaff and feeds the fibre onto the spinning wheel in short drafts.

And do take a closer look at the spinner’s traditional cap.

More information about flax, and how it is spun and woven can be found on one of the spinners’ website. It is in Dutch, but if you have Google as a browser, you can right-click on the text and have it translated.

And then, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the market, a quiet corner with an elderly couple. She is spinning and he is keeping her company.

They are both made from wool, needle felted and wet felted. And they are part of the project Gewoan Minsken (Frisian for Simply People). Artist Lucie Groenendal portrayed the people living and working in a care home by felting, drawing and painting them.

These are just two of them, with to the right in the photo above a work called Helping Hands. More about this beautiful project can be seen and read on the artist’s website.

I’m ending today’s post with the answer given by one of the people portrayed to the question what makes life worth living:

“Look for the good in people, enjoy the things you do, and know that growing old is a search for a new balance.”

xxx

PS: The general website of Joure Wool Festival can be found here, and a list of participants here.

Grou Yarn Shop

Hello!

Another little outing, today. This time, I’m taking you along to the Frisian village of Grou (rhymes with ‘now’), where I grew up. It is situated on a lake. In summer you won’t be able to see the lake for the boats, but now it’s deserted.

A cormorant sits hunched moodily on a mooring post, its feet clamped around the top. I know how you feel mate. I have days like that too, only not today.

Today, I’m happy to be in these familiar surroundings. Today, I have some time to stroll around and visit a yarn shop!

The village has changed a lot since I was a child here, but the old centre has remained largely the same, with everything built closely together.

The 12th Century church and the surrounding narrow streets and alleys with not-quite-as-old houses form the most picturesque part of the village. (I grew up in a considerably less picturesque part.)

The houses here are small, some even tiny, but very attractive.

Long ago there was a yarn shop in one of the houses around the church, the one with the red roof tiles and red brick front on the left in the photo below.

Later there was a yarn shop here, on the central square, where there is now a men’s hair salon (left of the striped barber pole).

When the owner retired, she asked my mum if she’d like to take over. Unfortunately, my dad vetoed it. I think mum would have loved it, and I would have loved helping around the shop.

After years without one, Grou got a new yarn shop in October 2020. Not an easy time to start, with a lockdown soon after the opening and another one recently. But Van Draad, as it is called, survived the ups and downs of the past two years and here we are:

It is a fairly small shop, but there is room for a cosy table where knitting circles and workshops will be held in the future, I expect. (The shops are open again, but under the current restrictions it isn’t possible for groups to gather in such small spaces.)

There is a wall of colourful yarns that is a joy to look at.

Here is a close-up of some pinks and purples.

There are swatches tucked in among the yarns here and there.

And on top of the wall of yarn is a sweater with a beautiful cable down the centre, knit from 4 very thin threads of alpaca held together (Lang ‘Alpaca Super Light’)

In a corner by the window there is a tempting display of laceweight mohair yarn (Katia Concept ’50 shades of mohair’). It’s like a knitter’s box of crayons.

No fancy hand-dyed yarns here, but a great selection of good quality, affordable yarns from Lang, Katia and Scheepjes, as well as books, magazines, needles, tools and accessories. I feel very much at home in this shop, I have to say, all thanks to Sytske, the very friendly and welcoming owner.

Q: Are all yarn shops in the Netherlands so lovely and their owners friendly? It looks like that from your blog. Or are you making things up?
A: No, not all yarn shops here are wonderful places. I just don’t write about the ones I don’t like. I’m not sponsored to say nice things either, so what you see and read here is honestly how I experienced it.

I took loads more pictures, but think this will have to do for now. If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, do pay Sytske a visit. Her website – with address, opening hours and webshop – can be found here.

Oh, and did I buy anything? Yes, I did – small quantities of 4-ply cotton and merino wool for baby things.

Oant sjen! (Frisian for See you!)

Nettle Socks and Nettelbosch

Hello!

Today’s post has a nettle theme running through it. To begin with, I’ve knit a pair of socks with nettle fibre in them. That was interesting, because the yarn (Onion Nettle Sock) behaved a little differently from the usual all-wool or wool-and-nylon sock yarn. Let’s take a look at the thread first:

As you can see, there is maroon fibre and white fibre. The maroon fibre is superwash wool (70%) and the white fibre is nettle (30%). Nettle doesn’t take the dye used for wool and stays white, which gives a nice marled effect. Here and there thicker bits of nettle stick out, but on the whole the thread is smooth. Nettle is a very strong fibre, and the thread doesn’t break easily.

For me, the problem was that the yarn has hardly any elasticity at all. At my first try, with a few centimetres of knit 1, purl 1 rib followed by stocking stitch, the sock became too loose. Casting on fewer stitches would give a tighter fit, but also a stiff sock. After throwing it into a corner taking a break from it, I had a lightbulb moment: what the yarn lacks in elasticity, can be added by using a stretchy stitch pattern! So, I knit the leg and the top of the foot in k2, p2 rib.

TIP: Here is something I learnt from my mum and she learnt from hers: start on the toe of the sock when the little toe is covered. I can’t guarantee that it works for very long toes, but I think it’s a good rule of thumb.

Laid out flat, the ribbing is all bunched up and the socks look rather narrow.

But on the foot, you can see how the rib stretches out and the socks fit perfectly.

I had my doubts about this yarn, but I’m happy with these socks now and hope the friend I made them for is too. Still, they’re pretty basic. I have more of this yarn for another pair and have an idea for making those a little more exciting. More about them in a few weeks’ time, I hope.

Q: Does nettle yarn sting or itch?
A: No more than any other sock yarn. It feels surprisingly nice, really.

All this focus on nettle fibre gave me an idea for a little outing to the Nettelbosch, a garden in the nearby town of Steenwijk. Come along! Up, up, up the stairs we go, on to the top of the old town wall.

After a short walk we go down another flight of stairs…

… and arrive at the entrance gate. Apart from the name of the garden, it shows a simplified map of the old town centre, with its wonky star-shaped defensive walls.

Long, long ago, there was a garden here, too. But it became a neglected spot – a tangle of nettles that was known to the locals as De Nettelbosch. When in 2018 the municipality decided to give the town centre a ‘quality boost’ by creating a new garden, the spot kept its name.

The small, stony pond looks nice all year…

… thanks to its attractive leafy bridge.

For the rest, De Nettelbosch looks rather bare and bleak at this time of the year.

At least at first sight. Spending a little longer looking around, small details catch the eye, like these seed heads.

There is also some colour to be found.

And even a few signs of spring!

These bulbs (daffodils?) are much further along than those in our garden, probably because of their sheltered situation behind the town walls. I’ll certainly take you back here in spring, to see what De Nettelbosch looks like then.

Goedgoan!*

*Local expression for Bye!

Easy and Relaxed

Hello!

Easy and relaxed – doesn’t that sound like music to your ears? Life would be boring without any excitement or puzzles to be solved, of course. But as someone who tends to overcomplicate things and is far from laid-back, I often yearn for things to be easy and relaxed. So, how could I resist a pattern called Easy Relaxed Pullover?

The original version is knit with 3 lace-weight yarns held together. I knit mine with one strand of a colourful bulky yarn.

It is Cloud from Lang Yarns, and is one of those new light-weight ‘blown’ yarns. One of the balls had a couple of knots in it, but on the whole, I am happy with the quality. I considered cutting the neon pink and bright orangey-red bits out, but I’m glad I didn’t.

It was a quick, fun, light-hearted project. The pullover is knit from the bottom up. The shoulders are joined with a 3-needle bind-off. Stitches are picked up for the sleeves, and those are knit from the shoulder down.

I seamed the side and sleeve seams using mattress stitch, worked from the outside. The stripes do not match up at the sides of the body at all, and that’s fine by me. But I did match up the stripes neatly on the sleeves.

At first I thought I’d take the easy way out and just show you the pullover on it’s own. But how will you know how it fits without seeing me wearing it? So here we go, first the front:

And then the back:

As you can see, it has a very relaxed fit, with arm’holes’ tapering out, which is why the sleeves start halfway on the upper arm. So, that explains the ‘relaxed’ part of the pattern’s name. As for the ‘easy part’, this is a very easy knit. Because of the short rows at the hem and the shoulders not very-first-knit-ever easy, but easy enough for a knitter with a little experience.

All in all, a very comfy working-from-home pullover. (The pattern for the Easy Relaxed Pullover can be found here on the design team’s website and here on Ravelry.)

 ‘Work from home unless it’s absolutely necessary to attend in person’ is still the norm here. Some people seem to thrive on working from home while others struggle. I’ve worked from home for most of my adult life, and think I’m somewhere in between. I know all about the pros as well as the cons, and if there is one piece of advice I can give, it is this:

Go for a walk every single day!

For some variation in my daily walks, I combined an errand in the town of Steenwijk with a walk and brought my camera. For anything but basic groceries we cycle to Steenwijk, and we can see its church steeple in the distance on most days.

Steenwijk is also the town of the historic house of last-week’s pop-up card. I passed by its art nouveau entrance gate.

This is by no means an easy and relaxed time for many. First of all, I’m thinking of everybody who is ill or has a loved one in hospital, and our hard-worked care-workers. Other groups that are hit hard are those working in cafés and restaurants, and shopkeepers.

Like just about everything else, all non-essential shops have been closed again since the mid-December.

Blessed is the country that considers flower shops essential.

It’s strange to walk through the quiet streets. I notice different things, too. This shop is my first port of call when I need new clothes:

A funny detail I’ve never noticed before is that the building used to belong to the Salvation Army.

And here is something that I know will interest at least one of you reading this:

This little shop no longer sells second-hand books, but is now focusing completely on bookbinding materials and tools. I try to support our local shops as much as I can. And one of the small ways I can do that is by giving you a link to this shop’s website. Do pay it a visit if you’re interested in bookbinding or beautiful papers. There is a little flag at the top of their website for an English or German version.

I’m hoping for some good light this weekend to photograph the swatches I’ve been knitting. If all goes well, I’ll write about those next week. Hope to see you again then!